We are breaking from our usual practice of only one fundraiser a year to have a mini-event. We hope you are in a festive mood and will include this humble site in your holiday giving. When we launched our big event early, as in over Labor Day weekend, we said we might hold a second one at a more conventional time. We came up a bit short on our targets and are back to you to see if you can help us meet them now.
If you don’t need further entreaties to support breaking and important news from around the globe, in-depth and regularly ahead-of-the-curve analysis, witty and informative discussions, plus cute animal pictures, plantidotes, and now frequent reader-provided “songbook” entries, please go straight to the Tip Jar! Every donation helps!
As Sergey P said earlier this week:
Overall I have to say NC authors and community have been a great source of support during this war.
I have been reading the blog for some years now, and have not seen a better intellectual environment anywhere in the Internet. So when Shahed hit the fan so to speak — it was great to see that analysis and understanding of the whole affair among these wonderful people….does not contradict my intuitions.
Honestly, if there is one nation on Earth intensely focused on its own navel to the exclusion of having any interest whatsoever in other countries and customs and peoples, the USA is that sad sack of a place. It’s why I read NC — at least, judging by comments, the 1% of America that actually has genuine interest in the world outside of US borders seems to be pleasantly over-represented here.
We have another reason for seeking your backing: We are announcing a near-term alternative to PayPal. We’ll soon explain our payments shaggy dog story and why were are using the Wise platform for international currency transfer on an interim basis. (If you are already a Wise user, head over to the Tip Jar so we can give you our coordinates.) The short version is some readers overseas could not donate due to PayPal obstacles (!!!). So if you are one of the readers PayPal shut out, your contribution will help close the shortfall.
In some key respects, we did very well in the fundraiser. Our average donation was way up from the year before. That confirmed that readers appreciate our relentless efforts to penetrate informational fog, particularly on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, America’s defense of its fading hegemony (blowback from sanctions, escalating with China) and Covid. Our long-standing depiction of crypto as prosecution futures has been borne out via serial collapses among exchanges and service providers, with far too much “money” having gone missing.
But the number of contributors was down! Was this due to the time of year, with not everyone yet in back to school mode? Worries over an October Surprise, market-wise or politically? The blocking of some non-US donors?
In the few short months since then, we hope you agree we’ve continued to perform at a high standard. Lambert made the correct election call, of a red ripple. We’ve hit our marks with kinetic and economic war coverage, Covid coverage, and in all likelihood even more China coverage. “That’s a lot,” as Dima of the YouTube Military Summary channel often says.
Since then, our new writers Conor and KLG have both added to the range of our coverage with high caliber, informative posts, Conor on politics and economics in power centers outside the US, KLG on practice and malpractice in science. Nick continues to cover the introduction of digital surveillance though payment systems, politics in Spain and Latin America, and banking train wrecks like Credit Suisse. Lambert sadly continues to bang his forehead on the desk over the CDC’s malfeasance.
So please head straight to the Tip Jar to top off our campaign for the upcoming year! We labor tirelessly to keep this vibrant community well informed, to hone our collective critical thinking and debate skills, as well as try to help maintain sanity. We think you’d be hard pressed to find another outlet that does as much as we do with such lean staffing. Help keep us punching above our weight by going to the Tip Jar and chipping in. Every donation, be it $5, $50, or $5,000, helps us make more trouble.
And now for our shaggy dog story:
Because we give the highest priority to generating new posts and then to participating in/minding the comments section, administrativia, even related to bringing in funds, too often falls by the wayside.
We have been trying to find an alternative to PayPal and have been repeatedly stymied. Wise is a kludge because it’s designed for remittances, not merchant payments. Not only do donors have to set up a Wise account (free but takes a bit of doing), but they then have to input information about us too. So there’s some friction. We hope to be replacing it with a more user-friendly solution.
It’s not just that PayPal has gone into the narrative enforcement business. It’s also that it has weird prohibitions on sending money in entirely upstanding countries like Japan:
Mind you, the error message makes it sound as PayPal was messing only with “this recipient” as in Naked Capitalism, as far as Japan donors were concerned. We called PayPal and they insisted that they had no restrictions for Naked Capitalism on any countries. Surely it was a block at the user’s bank.
It took four more calls, two of them with supervisors, pointing out that the Japan donation had been rejected before any customer, let alone bank, information had been entered, for a supervisor to ‘fess up that PayPal does indeed block donations from most countries in Asia, including Japan and India.
And then I recalled that it took PayPal a month to reconcile itself to the fact that we were taking donations but did not have a not-for-profit EIN.
We had wanted to add a new payment channel earlier, but the one that seemed the best in terms of probable long-term stability and fees acted like it didn’t want our business. As soon as we started to sign up, it wanted answers to a ton of questions, far in excess of what seemed reasonable for “Know Your Customer” purposes.
We’ve found that other providers that claim to let you get started in a few minutes have questions that don’t work for us. For instance, from Stripe:
We don’t sell goods or services so the query about timing of payment versus delivery completely misconstrues our relationship with our backers. You might say, just give any old response. But fudging an answer would be a violation of the customer service agreement, and would allow the processor to cut off service at any time.
Worse, I wasted time and got nowhere trying to get this issue resolved with customer service, which of course you cannot reach by phone. Despite explaining the issue clearly as “onboarding” and sending screenshots from the sign-up pages, the support staffer asked for more info….so she could find my Stripe account.
As payments expert Clive wrote:
I’m beginning to get a bit of a suspicion they don’t want the business — and this is a means of refusing to supply services without actually saying they won’t supply services. Denial of financial services on the basis of political affiliations is a hot topic (certainly here) right now and overt cancellations or not onboarding new customers because of their positions on political matters is increasingly problematic.
But there’s plenty of ways that financial services providers can persuade potential customers (or current customers) to go and find another supplier without blatantly closing their accounts or not accepting their applications. I can’t help but be reminded of the occasion when I was trying to open a bank account in Japan and I was asked to take and give them a photograph of me at the office where I was claiming to work — that being one of several increasingly bizarre requirements which I never saw listed anywhere in their account opening form…
The only way then, as perhaps is the situation here now, I was able to prevail was to make it clear I wasn’t going to go away, no matter how annoying they tried to be.
Bear in mind, I didn’t get far enough with Stripe for them to have the foggiest idea who I am. But their failure to allow for donations may amount to a bar on anything creative, let alone political or activist.
In the meantime, foreign contributors can e-mail us, as indicated in the Tip Jar, and we will give you our coordinates for a transfer via Wise. This is far from ideal but at least a step in a better direction.
So this fundraiser is particularly for those who wanted to give earlier and were stymied. We hope that the rest of you have a soft spot for Naked Capitalism and are in a generous frame of mind will chip in too. Just click on the Tip Jar link, and proceed from there. And early wishes for a great holiday!